MSF Day 2: The lighbulb

Somewhere among the repetition, self-deprecation, and muscle-memory, I "got" slow speed handling yesterday. We started the day doing the dreaded "U-turn" excercise, where you have to take the bike into a box that's 10 feet x 20 feet (roughly) and do a U-turn left AND a U turn right, exiting at the opposite corner. Maintaining momentum and engine RPM while remaining in the clutch friction zone was the key.

Of course, on the bike, that cold academic paragraph requires a coordination of head, body, hands and feet that requires every part of your neuro-muscular system. In other words, "IT'S HARD"

But somewhere around the 3rd try, it became easier. I kept my head turned, and found the sweet spot on the clutch, and around 1/4 to 1/8th throttle. The bike stayed up and I was easily through the U-turns. I'm not saying I'd like to do that maneuver 20 times a day, but it's a useful skill.

Then we learned proper cornering technique for a 90- and 135-degree turn, both right and left. Here, my natural tendencies started coming out:


Bob: Say, you just need 12 to 17 miles per hour for this exercise. You don't need to be going so fast.

Me: But, it's more fun that way.

Bob: You want fun? Come back for the experienced rider course and we'll let you do that at 25mph on your own bike.


So yeah, I kept rolling-on a bit too much throttle until...

...we were practicing our quickstop exercise for the final exams (er..."celebration of our skills") and I somehow turned a 15mph exercise into a 30 mph exercise and promptly locked 'em up through the braking zone. In front of everyone. Geeze, I felt stupid, and Bruce definitely let me hear about it!

But, thanks to that splash of cold water on my ego, the test went well. My scores (perfect is 0 points):


  1. U-turn: 0 points (w0000t)

  2. Swerve: 0 points

  3. Quickstop: 0 points (stopped 1 foot shorter than standard distance...w000t)

  4. Cornering: 5 points (trail-braked into the corner, like we do in autocross. That's a big no-no in MSF basic rider course...)



So, I just missed a perfect score. I was walking on sunshine, and still am today.

Now, if I can just find a BIKE.

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